Twenty-eight state parks throughout the state offer camping (click here for park rates) with a total of more 1,800 campsites. Site sizes, configurations and amenities vary. Some parks provide sites with electric and water hook-ups, which tend to be larger to accommodate recreational vehicles and campers. Kiptopeke and Hungry Mother campgrounds offer sewer hook-ups. Most campgrounds are open from the first Friday in March through the first Monday in December; primitive sites are available year-round. Visit the Reserve America site to reserve campsites, cabins, lodges and picnic shelters now.
All equipment must remain within the confines of the campsite without impacting the natural vegetation. Developed campsites can accommodate six people per site or all members of a household. Designated group camping areas are available, but all parks can accommodate groups.
Developed and group campsites have picnic tables, grills and access to bathhouses. Primitive campsites generally have fire grills, picnic tables, pit toilets and non-potable water. Primitive hike-in camping is available at Caledon, False Cape and Sky Meadows. Primitive drive-in camping is available at James River, and hike-in and canoe-in sites are available at New River Trail and Shenandoah River Raymond R. ”Andy” Guest Jr. state parks. Equestrian camping sites are available at Grayson Highlands, James River, New River Trail and Occoneechee state parks.
Some parks have equestrian campsites, most with horse stalls. Find a list of those facilities here.
The maximum camping period is 14 days. While campers cannot be assured of access to their reserved sites before the reservation start time of 4 p.m. arrive early to avoid lines at check-in and enjoy the park until your site is ready. Check-out is 3 p.m.
Reservations should be made as early as possible. Except for Caledon, False Cape, New River Trail and Sky Meadows, specific campsites are assigned upon arrival at the park based on the site type reserved, not when the reservation is made. Unreserved campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, but reservations are strongly recommended.
Unless otherwise specified, up to two camping units are allowed per campsite; only one axled camper is allowed per site. In designated high-impact areas, all camping units, equipment and vehicles must be within the defined area's borders. With few exceptions, campsites accommodate only up to a given maximum equipment size. All equipment smaller than that maximum is allowed on that site type. Large sites are not restricted to only RVs, but campers should be aware that parks have few large sites so campers should select an appropriately sized site. Here is a list of campgrounds with RV sites.
Loud music and other noise and disturbance that can be heard beyond the campsite are prohibited during quiet hours, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., at all parks. Generators are not allowed in campgrounds.
Note: False Cape State Park doesn’t allow motor vehicles and is accessible only by tram (campers may not use the tram), foot, bicycle or boat. False Cape is reached by land via a six-mile path through Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Between Nov. 1 and May 31 access through the refuge may be restricted to the beach. High tides and soft sands make hiking and bicycling extremely difficult. Reservations are required for False Cape State Park and a refuge fee may be charged.
Some parks offer alternate camping facilities. Camping cabins are generally one-room wooden buildings with two sets of bunk beds, a table, a ceiling fan and an electrical outlet. They have no heating or air conditioning. Guests use nearby bathhouses' rest rooms and showers. The camping cabins have a picnic table and a fire ring, grill or both. Guests must bring their sheets, pillows and towels. A minimum two-night stay is required for camping cabins. Check-in is 4 p.m. and check-out is 10 a.m. Camping cabins are available at Lake Anna, Pocahontas, Shenandoah River and Westmoreland state parks. Those at Westmoreland have two small rooms with two single beds in each room. Check for details on the given park’s web page under Cabins, camping.
Kiptopeke State Park has the park system’s only yurt. Recreational yurts are a modern adaptation of an ancient nomadic shelter that combines a beautiful wood frame and with durable, electronically bonded architectural fabric. It's a cross between a tent and a cabin. This yurt, which has a spectacular view of the Chesapeake Bay, has a large wooden deck, picnic table, fire ring with cooking grate, exterior floodlight, food preparation table and water spigot. Smoking, cooking and pets are not allowed in the yurt. It sleeps six; guests must bring sheets, blankets, towels and pillows. The yurt is air conditioned. Check in is at 4 p.m. and checkout is 10 a.m. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, a week-long stay is required, and a two-night minimum stay is required otherwise. As with other park cabins, the week-long stay requirement is reduced to a two-night minimum within a month before arrival. More funding has been made available to enable yurts in other state parks.
Kiptopeke also rents RVs that sleep six each. Guests must bring sheets, blankets, towels and pillows. Check in is 4 p.m. and checkout is 10 a.m. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, a week-long stay is required, and a two-night minimum stay is required otherwise. As with other park cabins, the week-long stay requirement is reduced to a two-night minimum within a month before arrival. Find more details here.
Also, a few parks have camping lodges (bunkhouses). These pre-fab buldings are in or adjacent to campgrounds. Their guests use a bathhouse. They have either two or three rooms with seven bunk beds, and each accommodates up to 14. Check in is 4 p.m. and check out is 10 a.m. Guests must bring sleeping bags or sheets, blankets, towels and pillows. There is a two-night minimum stay. Because these facilities are also used to house volunteers, unlike other overnight dwellings they are unvailable for rent 11 months in advance. Camping lodges are available at Belle Isle, Bear Creek, Claytor Lake, Fairy Stone, Grayson Highlands, Holliday Lake, James River, Kiptopeke, Occoneechee, Smith Mountain Lake and Staunton River state parks. Amenities vary by park so please see the given park’s Camping, cabin section for details.
Campsite cancellations may be made by calling the Customer Service Center during operating hours or calling the park when the Customer Service Center is closed. A $10 per site cancellation fee will be deducted from fees paid. This includes horse stall rentals. There is a $30 fee for group campsite reservation cancellations. A penalty of one night is charged to those who depart early. Any departure made after the camping check-in time of 4 p.m. is considered a full night’s stay. Prior to check-in or 4 p.m., whichever is earlier, customers may reduce the number of night in their stay at no charge.
Camping reservation transfers must be made through the Customer Service Center, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., before the start of the reservation. The reservation transfer fee for camping is $5. After that time, you must use the rental or cancel the reservation, and cancellation or early departure fees will reduce any refunds.